Especially when Janet slipped him a Franklin and was picking up his meal tab.
‘You got lunchtime use,’ she said, giving me the van keys and Barry’s ID card at the parking lot in back of Yichiba Noodle House. ‘Spare coveralls in the back ... large.’
I looked at her.
‘It’s all been arranged. You’re expected.’
Just like that...
Earlier that morning Janet had called me and told me to meet her there. Surfing had been put on hold; yesterday’s time on Napoopoo beach had been replaced with reality. This was business...
‘Expected to do what?’
‘Use your imagination.’ She turned away. ‘See you later, dude.’
Inside the van I slipped the coveralls over my sweats, zipped up, and clipped the ID card to the top pocket.
Meet Barry Kay – pool maintenance engineer.
I started up the Ford and pulled out into the traffic - coasted along the palm-lined highway with a panoramic view of the sea over to my left, up Wailuku hill to the front gates of Van Grossman’s mansion.
The van was clean; no passengers. Yes, I was expected. Yes, I had the right ID. No, I wasn’t told about the shit-load of sewerage that had clogged-up the system.
I used my imagination. ‘Not my problem,’ I said.
The head Honcho, a mean-looking motherfucker, dressed for a funeral and smelling of cheap cologne, wasn’t impressed. He nodded at the gate man to let me through. ‘It’s the fucking pool that’s caused the blockage. Fix it.’
I stifled a grin. Carry out a quick recon, shake my head, and call Janet. Barry could fix it.
But I hadn’t thought it through...
I drove up the long winding drive to the mansion with Hannibal Lector in the passenger seat, and parked the van up close, took out my toolkit and strode across the cultivated gardens to the poolside. The pool had been half-drained; crap and God knows what else floating in the murky water; a nauseating smell - worse than Lector’s cologne - just like a rat-infested sewer. I knew jack-shit about plumbing, but it seemed to me the problem was backflow, which was good news.
No one would think twice if I checked out the rooms.
I was in luck. Any plan to sanitize the mansion had been put on hold until the sewer had been serviced; Linda’s room looked tidy enough but the bed had not been made and the bathroom needed cleaning. But no cell phone, only her Nokia recharger plugged into a wall socket. I opened the closet, sifted through clothes, cleaned out the vanity desk drawers, the bedside cabinets, and searched the bathroom.
Had someone taken it?
I sat down on the side of the bed. Janet’s words filled my mind.
Use your imagination.
I pictured Linda leaving from the poolside terrace. Towel wrapped around, and her cell in her hand. She wanted a rest, she said. In the room, she would kick off her sandals, drape her towel across a chair – yes, they were there - and then lay down on the bed. With her cell.
With her cell.
I found it under one of the pillows.
I was done; looked at my watch – God, was that the time? Janet would be sweating it. I pocketed Linda’s cell and took out mine, called Janet.
‘Awesome, I found it.’
‘Shayne, where the fuck are you?’
I had a problem,’ I said. ‘Still have one.’
I heard her groan.
I saved her the question. Gave her the low-down that Hannibal Lector needed the plumbing fixed or else it would be my memorial service.
She groaned again. ‘Stay there. I’ll think of something.’
She clicked off before I had a chance to reply. I waited in the filtration room by the pool, pretending once more to inspect the pipe work under the watchful eye of my executioner.
Twenty minutes later, Lector took a call on his cell. A heated discussion took place; he snapped off the cell, looked at me.
‘There’s an old-timer at the front gates, says he’s Barry Kay. He’s got a driving license to prove it.’
What had happened?
I didn’t answer, couldn’t answer.
‘Who are you, kid?’
That’s when he called the cops.